Friends like this…

I am coming off of the best vacation high this Monday morning. There was cooking and wine, friends and games and outdoor adventures and wildlife sightings, singing, baby snuggling, great conversation, laughter, celebration and sitting under the stars in a hot tub with a Champaign toast.

The best part? I didn’t have to get out of my stretchy pants or put on a stitch of makeup.

Not once.

The other best part? I didn’t have to leave home.

Because these really wonderfully beautiful (inside and out) friends of ours chose to celebrate a huge accomplishment and an exciting step in their funky and exciting lives by braving the winter chill to load up their own stretchy pants and scarves to take the three-hour trip through oil country to visit us at the ranch in the middle of nowhere–despite an awkward phone call from yours truly the morning before their departure explaining that they may or may not have power or water or lights when they got here, but please, we would love to have you anyway.

Without batting an eye, they loaded up a few extra pairs of wool socks and another bottle of booze and headed for the hills, unfazed by the potential of an authentic roughing it old-school style experience.

These are my kind of people.

Heading out on our snow-shoe trip to work off all the wine and food we had the night before.

So once the power returned, my vacuum and I got reacquainted. Then I introduced myself to the Windex bottle and that went so well that I thought it would be a perfect time to meet my mop and just like that my cleaning supplies and I we were set for their arrival.

The arrival of two people who deserved a great getaway after years of higher education and a final exam that added a second Master’s degree to the couple’s accomplishments and a great adventure ahead. And I am so proud of them, even though it means they are going to pack up their little car and move further away from me.

But I guess it’s not always about me is it?

Damn.

Anyway normally when we have company at the ranch I try to come up with some activities we can do to show them around the place and help them fall in love and relax and have a little adventure. I schedule in meals and music and a little trip somewhere down the road to the lake or the river or the badlands. And we take photos and take it easy because I want them to remember it fondly. I want them to come back for crying out loud.

Crunching through the hard packed snow, with a sprinkle of fresh stuff floating in the air...

But these guests of mine have been here before. The have ridden our horses, zipped off to the lake to take a boat ride, hiked and barbecued with us in the summer sunshine and chatted under the stars at the campfire. And I think they genuinely love the place and its open skies and rolling buttes and coyotes howling at sunrise and sunset. I think they’re already sold.

Heading into the trees and the deep snow...

cutting a trail...

They love it so much that they can overlook the work that needs to be done here when the snow melts–the building that needs a new roof, the deck that will be replaced, the old equipment that is scheduled to be moved, the fencing that needs to be done. They don’t think twice about it because they understand, that this is what a working ranch looks like. And it isn’t always perfect. The fences don’t always align and the paint on the buildings don’t always match.

Husband telling a story of how elk live here in the summer...

But that’s not why they come.

Playing fetch with some enthusiastic participants...

They come to see us, to eat husband’s homemade noodles and the steak he cooked on the grill in sub-zero temperatures. They come to tell us their stories and hear ours. They come to laugh and teach us a card game and make a toast to friendship and accomplishments. They come to meet my sister and nephew. They come to tease me for my quirks and be the punch line for my jokes. They come to talk about marriage and life’s inconveniences and their adventures and worries and fears and to hear they’re not alone.

And to make sure we know that we aren’t either.

They come to walk the hills and take with them a new experience–to breathe in the wild, fresh air I tell them I love so much.

They come to love it too.

Climbing the hill...

taking in the view...

getting out the binoculars...

to spot...

...buffalo on the horizon

And as our friends packed up their car to head down the road and back to their home I realized I am not sure when I will see them again as they head off into a new adventure that will take them across the country and miles and miles from us. But I am not worried, because this friendship that we’ve found is worth traveling for. And we will make plans to see them in their world, just as they have done for us. We will make plans to walk their hills and eat at their favorite restaurants and drink their coffee and meet their family and hear their stories.

Because that’s what friends do. The come and see you.

And they don’t care if you don’t vacuum, or if your microwave is the first model ever invented, or if your dog got in the garbage while you weren’t paying attention, or if they didn’t see you in real pants or makeup the entire duration of the visit. Because they are right there with you, stretchy pants and all, whipping up a perfect batch of guacamole and helping with the dishes and laughing in the little old house behind the snowbanks in the middle of nowhere, together while the coyotes howl at the stars.

Here’s hoping you have friends like that.

12 thoughts on “Friends like this…

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